Podcast #115

The Secrets to Building a Successful Healthcare Brand with Kelly Meigs

Dive into the dynamic world of healthcare marketing with our host and Cardinal’s CEO, Alex Membrillo, and special guest Kelly Meigs, Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Planning at Tanner Health System. Discover the secrets of building a robust marketing team, harnessing CRM for targeted outreach, and using video and PR to elevate service line brands. Learn how to stand out with unique selling propositions and tailor communications to diverse demographics. Tune in for innovative brand building strategies for your healthcare group!

Episode Highlights:

Kelly Meigs: “I personally love TikTok. I follow a lot of clinicians in the women’s and children’s space, and a lot of them are creating amazing content around health issues that women struggle with. It’s the perfect platform for reaching women of a certain age. When we launched Facebook back in the day, the people that were on Facebook were our demographic. Now, as you know, with Facebook, the demographic has changed over time. How do we reach those 20- and 30-year-olds where they are on social media? TikTok and Instagram are those platforms.

Episode Overview

In this episode of Ignite, Kelly, the Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Planning at Tanner Health, joins our host Alex Membrillo to share her secrets to building a prosperous healthcare brand. 

Kelly elaborates on the importance of having a supportive leadership team that understands and values marketing’s role in the health system’s growth. This support has enabled Tanner Health to keep much of their marketing work in-house, ensuring cohesive strategy execution. She emphasizes the critical role of tracking and proving the return on investment (ROI) for marketing efforts, utilizing a CRM system integrated with their Epic system to follow patient interactions from initial contact to engagement.

The conversation shifts to highlight the use of platforms like TikTok to reach younger demographics, particularly for women’s health issues. Kelly shares how TikTok allows clinicians to relay valuable health information in a relatable and engaging manner, addressing topics that might be uncomfortable to discuss in person.

The episode concludes with a discussion on Tanner Health’s new venture into senior living. Kelly explains how their Get Healthy, Live Well initiative promotes long-term health and wellness, extending their healthcare services into senior living communities

Overall, Kelly’s insights showcase the innovative and multifaceted approach Tanner Health takes in its marketing efforts, from leveraging social media platforms to expanding into new service areas, all while maintaining a focus on measurable outcomes and patient engagement.

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Alex Membrillo: What’s up, everybody? You know I always tell you guys, we are in for a treat and it’s because every time you’re not mostly going to listen to me. That’s a treat. Today, really, really, really we got someone who I got a pre-recording intro into all the things Kelly wanted to talk about and it’s so cool. She’s doing some really cool stuff, and she’s looking at some really cool trends. Guys, we’re in for a serious treat like a doggy treat that the dog loves. Kelly Meigs, welcome to Ignite.

Kelly Meigs: I am so happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Alex: You’re welcome. Kelly, the crazy thing about this to our three listeners is that Kelly’s actually in the same state as us here in Georgia, and we didn’t even do it in person. I didn’t connect the dots until a minute ago. That’s great. We have a great state of Georgia representing on today’s healthcare marketing podcast. Kelly, where do you work?

Kelly: I work at Tanner Health. We are a five-hospital health system about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta West. We’re this close to Alabama and we have one hospital in Alabama. We are all in West Georgia.

Alex: I love it. You should be in central time, but you’re not. The sun is setting probably super early or late for you. I don’t know which one is it.

Kelly: That makes it very confusing sometimes when we have meetings across the state line and we never trust are we going to be there at the right time.

Alex: That would be crazy. “Let’s meet at Zaxby’s.” “What time for you? Where’s Zaxby’s at?”

Kelly: Time there or time here? What do you mean?

Alex: People don’t even know what Zaxby’s is. Tanner, got it. A regional player, every service line under the sun, standard hospital system.

Kelly: We have everything from cardiology, women’s services, behavioral health. We have 40 physician practices for all variety of specialties. We are pretty robust in our service line offerings.

Alex: I love it. Your role there is what?

Kelly: I’m vice president of marketing strategy and planning.

Alex: I want to have that job so I can do strategies and plannings all day.

Kelly: It’s fine.

Alex: Yes, it’s fun. I don’t want to do work anymore. You probably do, but I just want to come up with ideas every day, “Guys, go do it.” Anyway, you have a team. Do you have an in-house team of marketers there, Kelly?

Kelly: We do.

Alex: Everybody always wants to know, how’d you build your team? Who’s the first hire? Yada, yada, yada.

Kelly: We function like a full-service marketing agency. We have everybody from account executive-type folks to copywriters, graphic designers, videographers, event planners. We have a traffic control person who keeps up with all the projects within marketing. We have outreach folks, strategy folks. It’s a pretty robust team of about 16, and I feel very fortunate because most health systems our size don’t have a team this size, but we’re able to achieve that by keeping so much of our work in-house.

Alex: Why do you think you have a team that size? Leadership buys into marketing more than most systems, you proved it out there? Why?

Kelly: Our CEO and my EVP are very supportive of marketing. They believe us to be part of the strategy of the overall growth of the health system and such an important part to how we grow and continue to stay financially strong from year to year. I’m really excited about all the different things. We just recently hired a videographer, so we bring in all of the video in-house. That is a big win. We hired internal comms, which when we have nearly 4,500 employees, we really need to be able to communicate to that massive audience. We’ve got a lot of really great resources right at our fingertips here in the marketing department.

Alex: That starts with the leadership team being totally on board with marketing.

Kelly: Totally.

Alex: A game changer for experience.

Kelly: So important.

Alex: We think so. What do you think got them there, Kelly? Were you sitting down with them early in your day? You’ve been at Tanner for a while. Six, seven years, how long?

Kelly: 23 years.

Alex: 23. I don’t know, I thought six. Maybe six in the recent role. 23 years. You sit down with them often. They must understand the business result for the marketing activities. Are you tracking all the way like service line spend, result, patient appointments, surgeries, revenue? How far deep do you guys get with proving the business case?

Kelly: We feel like that is the most important thing that we do, is to justify, here’s the money that we’re spending that the system gives us, and how are we optimizing that spend. We have a CRM, and what we do is we track every marketing tactic from a Facebook ad to a web fill, all the way through to the patient engagement. We even track what the value that patient brings to the system.

In healthcare, it’s really hard to attribute every single strategy that you do to a patient interaction, but we work really hard to do that. I think that’s part of us proving our value. Where we’re able to really bring a lot of value to the system is being able to show that return on investment, we spent this much money, it generated this much revenue, which equals to this many new patients.

Alex: I love that. If you love proving that ROI, I imagine you’re not the biggest fan of those big things on the interstates.

Kelly: I really don’t like billboards. I know that there are use cases for them where come here, this place right below us. I think there are a lot of directional purposes for them from a general and maybe for brand building, but that doesn’t need to be your entire strategy because it’s very hard to track that somebody saw that on that billboard as they’re driving 70, 80 or miles an hour on the interstate or anywhere, and they are able to call you up. I feel like that’s not a really great connection, and I feel like when you are targeting somebody on Facebook where you know it’s the right demographic and they make an action, that is so much more impactful for that media spend.

Alex: I love that. I would wholeheartedly agree with that, but it’s such a biased response for me. You have main service lines, all the hospital systems do cardiac for instance. What’s the suite of marketing tactics you’ll roll out for that unit?

Kelly: For instance, we recently launched Open-Heart. That is a big service line. It involves a lot of brand building because you want people to feel confident that they can have their open-heart surgery here in West Georgia. Really positioning your leaders and your clinicians as being experts in what they do is really important. When we built the campaign, it was a lot around the things we always do, which are Facebook, but it was really heavy on video, really heavy on PR because you’re wanting to really emphasize your clinical strength.

A lead physician had been doing 10,000 of these surgeries before he ever came to Tanner and has just a great star quality about him. We really used him as the lead of most of our advertising and promotion around open-heart. The great thing is that we’ve been building up to open-heart for about 20 years, really just building the brand proposition is our main function regarding that campaign.

Alex: I love it. You led with the superstar provider as the brand.

Kelly: Oh, yes. Sometimes people go outcomes, but when you don’t have the outcome data yet, you got to go with, hey, we have this phenomenal provider. That’s cool. Will you do billboards for some of that magazine radio, any of that stuff or a big brand build like that or no?

Kelly: We did a ton of newspaper website, social promotion around that, did a lot of interviews with key staff members. We had never had a perfusionist. Explaining what’s a perfusionist and positioning him as an expert. He’s been in his career a long time and just what is a perfusionist and you really use those clinical folks build the brand for open-heart.

Alex: I had minimally invasive heart surgery and you better bet it’s not even as serious as what you guys, but I looked up all the providers, everything, and I still got there. What is a perfusionist? What does that person do?

Kelly: They’re the person when you have open-heart surgery that ensures that your blood is still flowing to your brain and other parts of your body while you’re having open-heart surgery. It’s a very specialized thing. There’s not that many of them, and so having one on our team is really great. They also run ECMO machines, which during COVID became buzzwords. ECMO machines are heart-lung bypass machines that can breathe for you if you’re not able to breathe. They are the experts on all things ECMO.

Alex: This is not something competitors, if you would, necessarily have the perfusionist or the ECMO machine. When people landed on the landing page of the microsite, you wanted to really highlight that. Guys, that’s what Kelly is saying. She met with internal stakeholders. What’s our unique selling proposition? What do we have that nobody else does? Then let’s meet with those people, get the correct terminology, build content around it, video being the leader. Then that’s our selling tool, basically, when we drive people back to the microsite.

I think that’s cool, Kelly. That’s the strategy that we’re often missing in marketing as we go to tactics, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. Yes, but what are we saying differently than Facebook, Facebook, Facebook than everybody else on there? Right?

Kelly: Exactly.

Alex: Very cool that you found out the value proposition and then you made content around it. I’m also very bullish on video because it’s the only thing that can’t be created by ChatGPT and the robots quite yet.

Kelly: True.

Alex: It will be able. You’ve seen that you can input something, but it’s so screwed up. It’ll handle text very well in the coming years, but video I think is the differentiator. Let’s be honest, the future mediums of advertising are all going to be video or visual, at least.

Kelly: Right.

Alex: Very good. I love it. You’re on the right track. Man, I’m going to skip around here a little bit. Talking about video, are you on the ticky-tocky? Have you guys invested anything there or what are you feeling about it?

Kelly: I personally love TikTok. I follow a lot of clinicians in the women’s and children’s space, and a lot of them are creating amazing content around health issues that women struggle with. It’s the perfect platform for reaching women of a certain age. When we launched Facebook back in the day, the people that were on Facebook were our demographic. Now, as you know, Facebook, the demographic has changed over time. How do we reach those 20- and 30-year-olds where they are on social media? TikTok and Instagram are those platforms. We started with women on TikTok before COVID and have recently begun picking that up again because I feel like that is a great opportunity to talk about topics that are hard for a physician to spend time discussing in the office, but that somebody may be either too embarrassed or didn’t feel like they had time to bring up. This is a perfect way to show your clinicians as real people and talk about things that are sometimes difficult topics to understand or relate to. There’s so much information out there. It’s great to have your clinicians be the ones to put that information out.

Alex: Give us a technical example. How have you used it? Have you done anything technical with it? I think people want to know, what do I do with this?

Kelly: Yes. We’ve used it with our clinicians to talk about what you should be doing to take care of yourself after OB/GYN surgery, either after having a baby or having some other invasive surgery, like a hysterectomy, and how to take care of yourself after that. Very useful knowledge that people need to have at that time in their life.

Alex: Do you have to make it fun? Not all TikTok. Does it all have to be fun? I’m not on it.

Kelly: No, it doesn’t have to be fun. You’re not on TikTok?

Alex: It doesn’t. I know. My wife shares me enough dog videos and I’m like, “I’m good. I’ve seen it all now.”

Kelly: I think I’m stuck in Taylor Swift TikTok right now and I don’t know how I’m ever going to get out of it.

Alex: She showed me you can search. You search. Do you think people are searching OB/GYN? Like, “No, they’ll search the procedure, hysterectomy recovery or something like that.”

Kelly: Yes. You can do recovery time after having a baby, hysterectomy, but you can also search for things like STI information, things like that people may feel too embarrassed to ask their clinician or even a friend and find out information there. I think that there’s a lot of opportunity there. OB/GYNs are really using it, plastic surgeons are really using it to get out information about what they do. The tricky part about TikTok is it’s hard to target, but they’re also cheap. It’s cheap to-

Alex: They’re advertising and stuff?

Kelly: Really target, okay, I only want people in West Georgia. That is tricky. You can do a lot on the practice to say, hey, follow me on TikTok to build your audience.

Alex: Is it similar to YouTube where you can tag the video with certain keywords so that when people type hysterectomy, STI information?

Kelly: Yes.

Alex: Cool. Hopefully, it’ll prioritize where you are. It’s going to be one of the future search engines. Very cool. You guys are dabbling in that. That’s very fun. Almost nobody is in healthcare and-

Kelly: I think it also has a bad rap where people are very leery of anything brand new. It was that way with Facebook back in the day. Just explaining why this is a good medium to attract your audience or to engage with your audience is really important and to also explain that it is a different audience. You may do something that seems not out of brand, but a little bit sideways of your brand. You just have to explain why you’re doing it that way and why it’s important for you to speak in the terms that they are searching for.

Alex: Got it. That’s internal stakeholder education you’re doing.

Kelly: It’s true, yes. It’s very true.

Alex: Guys, that’s what you get in the South. We’re very nice when we’re talking. You have to go around. Those service line leaders or those that are the providers that you’re going in the office and you’re like, “Guys, we’re going to do some weird stuff for a minute, but it’s for a different demo.” OBs, you want the youngster. Who do you have to talk to?

Kelly: It’s fine because the providers understand they want to reach people where they are. They understand they’re not going to read a pamphlet that you give them or a binder that you’ve created for them for about their childbirth. They understand you’ve got to talk to people where they’re going to be most apt to hear you. We really didn’t have any trouble getting our providers engaged.

We even had one that seemed to be somebody who would not be super engaged in it create a really funny video. He was an OB/GYN, but he had a pillow stuffed under his shirt. The sound that was playing is that, hey, where are you going? Where are you at? Talking about the baby coming. There’s a lot of opportunity to show your providers in a different light. Yes, they have a sense of humor, they’re human people. That makes it really fun.

Alex: I love it. You love TikTok. I can tell you. You love TikTok.

Kelly: I love it. I’ll be super disappointed if it suddenly goes away.

Alex: It won’t. There’s too much money. America loves capitalism and Biden will realize–

Kelly: We do.

Alex: The youngsters that they’re polling hate that Biden has rejected it.

Kelly: I know.

Alex: He’s not going to want to lose the election. He’ll find a way for it to get sold before then.

Kelly: Thanks [unintelligible 00:14:36]

Alex: You’ll have a big voting demographic for him. It’s not going anywhere. Our team is starting to dabble in it, but it’s so cool to hear an actual use case from you guys.

Kelly: It’s fine.

Alex: It’s fun, and it’s different. Listen, we’re predominantly an SEO and PPC shop, but it’s way more fun to make TikTok videos.

Kelly: It sure is. It is a lot more fun to talk about that and all the different ways you can be creative. When you start looking at how are we going to generate content and you start following some people, you’re like, “Yes, that’s good.”

Alex: You have to have an internal stakeholder. That’s okay. We like some spend going some places they don’t really know and it has a longer-term impact.

Kelly: True.

Alex: It’s going to– That’s almost like brand building and hey, it’s differentiation over time. We promise in three years, this demo is going to be more aware and love you way more than the other OB down the street. If there’s one takeaway, it’s make sure that your content is geared towards the platform, but also the service line or the type of provider service you’re in. The OBs are perfect, that’s who they want, but the intensive cardiac stuff, no. Those are– When I was going to cardiologists, it was not my demographic.

They were like, “Why are you here?” It’s like my age at twice the normal rate because I run an agency. You have to take on the service line and say, who is this demographic? Let’s go to the right platform for that.

Kelly: That’s true.

Alex: That’s important.

Kelly: Facebook is 65 and above, 55 and above, 50 and above. I don’t even know, but we-

Alex: 39 and above, Kelly.

Kelly: We tend to look at our cancer, cardiac, even in urology and some of those campaigns to be very targeted to Facebook, where younger Instagram, and we really are targeted by where those people are.

Alex: I love it. This is some of the best content we’ve had on the podcast ever. You know why I also love talking to you health system marketers? Is you’re doing really impactful work that saves lives. I love my clients, but we can delay the dental cleaning occasionally. It’s so cool. You get to wake up and really save lives. If they find that educational piece on the surgery that they can have for their heart, wow. That could save their life because it’s not like they can find a competitor potentially, and so they just don’t get the operation.

Kelly, I don’t know. It’s cool. I wear the t-shirt, but you actually get to wake up and do cool life-changing. Hold on. You mentioned you had a CRM. Is it home-built or is it office?

Kelly: For sure. We have WebMD Ignite.

Alex: WebMD Ignite, all right. That integrates– What’s your age in Epic? You’re on Epic?

Kelly: It does. We launched Epic in 2019. We worked on getting our CRM integrated where we will know– If, Alex, you came to be our patient through a Facebook ad, we would know that. That became really important to be able to track real revenue generated by marketing. That was a really difficult endeavor because you’ve got your marketing folks and your IT folks and your compliance folks all involved, making sure that you’re being compliant in all the ways we need to be from a PHI perspective.

The data we get is de-identified, so we don’t know– I can’t go in the system and look to see exactly what you did, but I can see that someone that we contacted on Facebook had that interaction. The magic of connecting you and the Facebook ad happened in the background where we can’t see it.

Alex: That’s great. It shows touchpoints and stuff. Also, they have an advertising unit, too. Is that their way of trying to say, “The attribution works better if you use our CRM.”? Is that part of the shtick?

Kelly: No, they’re actually really separate. We had Influence Health back in the day, they got bought by Healthgrades, they then got bought by WebMD. Really, the whole strategies and tactics are separate from CRM. It’s pretty agnostic. It’s not where you have to buy ads through the CRM, it’s not like that at all. You connect your Facebook web accounts and your website, you do a lot of integration work to be able to track.

Alex: They mostly work with health systems or they work with provider groups too?

Kelly: I think they only work with health systems. What’s great about any health-related CRM is there are things you can say what is somebody’s propensity for disease based on the things that are in their medical record. They smoke like a freight train, they’re overweight, their blood pressure is high. You can target them for particular marketing communications. To me, it’s not even really marketing communications, it’s health information,

Alex: The education. Send out emails with the correct educational pieces and content and all that stuff.

Kelly: Yes.

Alex: Man, that’s neat. That’s good. I’ll Ping you later. I’d love the contact over there. I may potentially interview them on here. That’s cool because it’s all about tracking and it’s hard to do in healthcare with all the [unintelligible 00:18:59] stuff that’s come down the pike in the last few years. We have our way with provider groups. I’m always interested to hear how the health systems do it. That’s very neat and kudos for getting all the touchpoints in there and doing in a compliant manner. It’s like Kelly said, you’re going to end up guys. When we went to marketing school, we didn’t know we would have to be operations, finance, technology, and now lawyers, but now we all have to be all of it, and we preach MOPs, marketing, and ops alignment every day.

Every one of these interviews, if you’ve listened to more than five minutes of one of them, you realize like the best marketing leaders are meeting with ops every day, the C levels, where do we need patient volume? How do we do this compliant in a compliant way? Unfortunately, we can’t just do marketing stuff anymore, especially in healthcare, the flip side is, Kelly, it’s job security because no one else can do our jobs because it’s gotten so complicated. That’s the good stuff. Big stuff over the last year. What are you most proud of? Have y’all launched any big campaign? We talked about the cardiac one. Anything else coming to mind?

Kelly: About three years ago, we started into senior living. Part of what Tanner believes in with our Get Healthy, Live Well initiative is that we are taking care of you not just when you have an episode and need to come to the hospital, or you need to see your doctor, but how do you keep healthy all your life? How do you manage your chronic disease? How do you prevent chronic disease? How do you manage your weight? How do you eat healthy? We started our Get Healthy, Live Well program that has a lot of programming around just that, how do you keep people out of the hospital and healthy? The great thing about Senior Living is it combines the best things about Get Healthy, Live Well, which is stay healthy for as long as you can, and combines the ability to have access to a health system in a senior living community.

It is assisted living, memory care, independent living, and freestanding homes. They have access to Tanner programming. It’s got a Tanner brand on it. It’s been really exciting to do a whole new brand. It’s different than the usual Tanner Green, which is really exciting, but also to be able to reach a completely different audience and to advertise in the real estate space. For a marketer in healthcare as long as I have been, it’s been really exciting to do something somewhat different, but somewhat the same.

Alex: Yes, because then you learn all new skills with that community-based thing. It’s like the lead comes in. That’s only step one of five, where it’s step four of five in-

Kelly: It is.

Alex: -a provider space. It’s like then you’re really– the work starts of trying to getting them into the community for tours and all that stuff. That’s fun. You got to create a new brand.

Kelly: Yes, that’s great.

Alex: I love the Get Healthy, Live Well. That’s really cool because it’s action oriented, they get what the point is. Now you have the whole continuum. I would love that. If my parents– I was looking to put them somewhere. Yes, man, it’s like a hospital system. I know they’re at least going to be healthy. Are they going to have fun? I don’t know, but they’re going to be healthy because it’s a health system. That’s cool. You got to dabble in some new stuff. What’s your favorite part of non-healthcare marketing? It’s okay. Nobody will know.

Kelly: Of non-healthcare marketing?

Alex: Yes.

Kelly: Do you mean about senior living?

Alex: Yes, the senior living has been the best part.

Kelly: What’s been exciting about it is learning a different way to communicate with people and what drives them to senior living because you have the audience of not only the people who are choosing to go to senior living but the caregivers and the members of their family. They all have different motivations. How do you address their concerns, because moving to senior living is a big change, a big step. How do you communicate that to them and become a partner with their healthcare decision?

Alex: That’s crazy. I bet you studied the adult daughter more than we ever have. That’s fun. The adult daughter, the mama, man, she makes every decision, healthcare or otherwise.

Kelly: Exactly.

Alex: That’s cool. You got to do that and you got to dabble in some new designs and things like that. That’s always fun. As marketers, we love the visual stuff. Even if we drive crazy good performance and we’re like, “Your ROI is this, your CPL is this low.” They’re like, “Yes, landing page sucks.” We’re like–

Kelly: I’m a recovering graphic designer. I started at Tanner as a graphic designer. I still could argue that it’s more important what the pictures say than what the words say, but I do know they’re both important.

Alex: Yes, they’re both important. Words matter. I’ve been told by my team, “Words matter. Alex, stop talking about your schmuck.” I love the pictures.

Kelly: I love the pictures too, and the colors.

Alex: Pretty pics forever. Kelly, this was awesome. I have a feeling people are going to want to reach out Kelly M-E-I-G-S if y’all go looking her up in LinkedIn from Tanner Health System. Kelly, this was a blast. Thank you for joining us on Ignite.

Kelly: Thank you so much. It was good to talk to you.

Alex: Guys, this was her first one on video. She crushed it. It’s the most professional video we’ve had because it wasn’t a straight-on thing, and she’s got an actual microphone. I’m here with a schmuck with just this thing.

Kelly: Really [crosstalk]

Alex: Thank you for advancing Ignite five years.

Kelly: Thank you so much.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcast and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.

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